Does the Use of Body Scanners Discriminate Overweight Flight Passengers? The Effect of Body Scanners on Body Image

Magdalena Laib, Larissa Wolkenstein


Whereas the introduction of body scanners at airports has been accompanied by critical voices raising concerns that body scanners might have a negative impact on different minority groups, it has not been investigated thus far whether they might also have negative impacts on the average flight passenger and if the provision of adequate information might attenuate such negative impacts. Using a pre/post-design the current study examines the effect of a body scan in a controlled laboratory setting on the explicit and implicit body image of normal-weight and overweight people as assessed by questionnaires and an Implicit Association Test. Half of the sample received an information sheet concerning body scanners before they were scanned. While there was a negative impact of the body scan on the implicit body image of overweight participants, there was a positive impact on their explicit body image. The negative effect of the body scan was unaffected by receiving information. This study demonstrates that body scans do not only have negative effects on certain minority groups but potentially on a large proportion of the general public which suggests a critical reconsideration of the control procedures at airports, the training of the airport staff who is in charge of these procedures and the information flight passengers get about these procedures.



Body scanner, body image, implicit attitude, explicit attitude, overweight

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International journal of business and social research (Print)
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